Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Chosen Pariah

"Australia is viewed as the 'dumb blonde' of the world, attractive but shallow and unintelligent, says... visiting British branding expert Simon Anholt." (Our beauty is only skin deep, Dan Harrison, Sydney Morning Herald, 14/10/10)

I think he's got our measure perfectly.

Anholt has been 'branding' countries since 1996, and his Anholt-GfK Roper Nation Brands Index (NBI) is described as a "system for measuring and managing national reputation around the world." ( The NBI currently ranks 50 countries, measuring "the power and quality of each country's 'brand image' by combining six dimensions: exports, governance, culture & heritage, people, tourism, and investment & immigration." Its ranking is based on online interviews with 1,000 citizens in each of 20 countries around the world.

While the dumb blonde ranked 9th on the NBI for 2008, 2009 and 2010, I couldn't help wondering how the world's Light unto the Nations and Only Democracy in the Middle East was faring on the NBI.

While the complete year-by-year data appears to be available only to subscribers, Israel's 2006 performance was sufficiently bad for Anholt to comment thus: "Israel's brand is by a considerable margin the most negative we have ever measured in the NBI, and comes at the bottom of the ranking on almost every question' ... The survey also indicated that Israel came last in each area by a long margin, including the fact that of the 36 countries ranked, there is nowhere that respondents would like to visit less than Israel. Worse yet, the survey indicates that Israel's people were also voted the most unwelcoming in the world. And there was one more unpleasant surprise: Whoever thought that the US is Israel's best friend and Israel is loved in the US, the index indicated that Americans ranked Israel just slightly ahead of China in terms of its conduct in the areas of international peace and security." (Survey: Israel worst brand name in the world, Israel Today Magazine, 22/11/10)

Nor, it appears, did Israel fare any better in 2008, failing yet again to crack the top 50 ranking. Tellingly, Egypt (32), Turkey (36), Saudi Arabia (48) and Iran (50) had no such trouble.

If, to cite Anholt, Australia emerges from the NBI data as somewhat of a dumb blonde, it would appear that Israel emerges, despite its vaunted propaganda mill, as a swaggering bully. Nor, given its present course, is there much it can do to change that image. As Anholt correctly points out, "Places can't construct or manipulate their images with advertising or PR, slogans or logos... Places can only change their image by changing the way they behave." (The Israeli brand, Craig Smith,, 13/10/09)

Zionist pollster and PR expert Frank Luntz has "urged the use of carefully selected 'themes and emotions' in positioning [Israel], including one he called 'the human touch'" (The brand image of nations: Israel, Richard Cravatts,, 16/2/07). Given that inhumanity is built into any colonial-settler project, let alone one as extreme as the ethnically-exclusive Zionist project, Luntz's solution to Israel's image problem is, needless to say, doomed to failure.

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